She could see that he was angry at her in the set of his jaw and the way he gripped the wheel. He didn’t say anything, but he never did. The car slid silently down the highway, alternately flooding with light, and then with shadow, wheels whispering somewhere beneath them. She glanced at him, and then out the window. She would have liked to say something, but didn’t have anything to say.
She might have said she was sorry, but she already had. She might have asked him what she could do, but she knew he would find an answer, just snap at her and make the air in the car feel heavier. She didn’t have an adequate explanation for whatever thoughtlessness she had performed, nor even know what she was meant to explain, and asking why he was angry would be stupid as praying for a hurricane. He would only tell her that she already knew or should already know, and work himself up to shouting.
Without wanting to, she stayed silent, convincing herself from one moment to the next to stop up every word on her tongue.
The lights striped through the car. The wheels hummed. The road turned and he jerked the wheel a little too hard. She shut her eyes when it shook her, then swallowed hard.
“Pull over,” she whispered.
He looked at her, just for a second, incredulous, then back at the road. “What?” he demanded.
“Pull over,” she told him, a little louder. She straightened in her seat.
“We’re in the middle of the highway,” he said.
It was too late at night for traffic. She hadn’t seen another car near them in ten minutes. He had plenty of space to drift to the shoulder of the road. “Pull over now,” she said.
He braked hard. She didn’t shut her eyes that time, but braced her hand against the car door. The car squeezed up beside the metal rail, then stopped, too sharply, and rocked back. He let go of the wheel and whirled toward her.
“Now what?” he demanded.
She already had her purse in her hand, her hand on the latch. The door clicked open. She slid out.
Shocked, he pushed his door open as well, and stared at her over the roof of the car. “What are you doing?”
The air was a little cooler than she had expected it to be, but she overlapped her coat in front of her and crossed her arms to hold it shut. Or maybe just to cross them.
“Go home,” she told him.
“Get in the car,” he said.
“No, thank you,” she said.
“What are you doing?” He leaned as close to the car, as close to her, as he could. And he was already starting to shout.
“I’m too tired for this,” she murmured. She looked him in the eye and wasn’t sure whether she should have not, and hated that she was so uncertain about whether she could look at him or not.
“I’m taking you home,” he said.
“I’m too tired to end up in the parking lot of my apartment yelling at you,” she said. She nodded down the road. “Go home. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“You’re going to hitchhike?” he snapped.
“I have my phone. My wallet. My feet. My head.” She shrugged at him. “I’ll figure something out.”
“Get in the car,” he said.
“I don’t want to,” she said.
“I’m not leaving you out here,” he said.
“I’m asking you to,” she said.
For a moment, he just stared at her. Then he gripped the top of the car door like he might break it, leaned toward her again with his mouth open to say something more and took it back.
She tried to smile at him, knowing it came out all wrong. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” she said firmly.
Turning, she took the first step down the road, and the second, and the third. She left the sound of the engine behind, then the glare of the headlights, and took a deep breath, arms still wrapped around herself. She leaned her head back and breathed, grateful for the quiet and the broken silence.